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Alleged N544m fraud: Court grants EFCC leave to amend charge against ex-SGF, others

The EFCC has been granted leave by Justice Okeketo amend charges  in accordance with section 218 of ACJA.

Okeke also granted the prayers of the defendants ‘s counsel and ordered that the defendants continue in the existing bail conditions.

In addition he said since the defendants ‘s counsel complained of the effect of prosecution ‘s amended charge on their preparation he would grant an adjournment.

Okeke adjourned until April 11 for commencement of trial.

Earlier, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN ) counsel for Lawal, said he was not opposing to the application.

He said the prosecution ought to have filed a fresh charge , he further said that the amendment would affect the day’s commencement of trial.

Mr. D.N Idoko, counsel for the second defendant, Mr Napoleon Idenala and the third, Mr Ocholi Okutekpa for the fourth and sifth, Mr Mercel Oru for fifth all aligned with Olujimi.

All the defendants’s counsel also prayed the court to allow the defendants to continue in the existing bail condition after they took their plea on the amended charge.

The EFCC dragged them to court on a 10-count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful award of contract to companies Lawal has interest at the sum of N544 million.

Lawal was also accused of benefiting illegally from the approval of N544,119,925.36 for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.

The EFCC alleged that Babachir Lawal being the SGF and Hamidu Lawal, director of Rholavision Engineering Limited and Abubakar, staff about March 7, 2016 at Abuja conspired to commit the offences.

EFCC said the defendants fraudulently acquired a property, contrary to Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

It also alleged that Babachir Lawal knowingly held indirectly a private interest in the consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Limited for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N7 million and N6.4 million.

EFCC claimed that it was done through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE).

It further alleged that on March 4, and Aug. 22, 2016 contract for removing evasive grass worth N272.5 million and N258.1 million respectively were awarded to Josmon technologies but executed by Rholavision.